An indigenous Lokono, Guyanese Stephen Campbell (1897-1966) a devout Roman Catholic, was born on Dec 26th, in Moruca which straddles Pomeroon and North West District, Guyana, South America.
He became a teacher, but his mark on recent Indigenous Guyana history came when, on Sept 10th 1957, he became the first Indigenous Member of Parliament in Guyana’s colonial history. He was elected on the Legislative Council of British Guiana.
“In the year 1957, I entered politics at the request of the Amerindians who felt that they had no one to represent their interest in the central government,” said Mr Campbell. Today, Stephen Campbell is regarded as an important figure because of his work for the rights of indigenous Guyanese.
Mr Campbell petitioned the UK Government, to ensure the land rights of indigenous peoples were recognised. He set up the Amerindian Association so as to ensure indigenous peoples were represented at negotiations for Guyana’s independence. When Guyana gained its independence from the UK, the legal ownership of indigenous lands was part of the condition.
Sadly, this great indigenous visionary passed away just two weeks before Guyana gained its independence from the UK.
Because Mr Campbell is such a pivotal figure in recent indigenous history, the Guyana Organisation of Indigenous People (GOIP) which is one of two bona fide indigenous organisations in Guyana recognises the importance in marking his work. The group is taking its stance and dedicating Sept 10th to Stephen Campbell.